Vettel takes pole as Alonso struggles to fourth row

2012 United States Grand Prix qualifying

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World championship leader Sebastian Vettel struck a key psychological blow against rival Fernando Alonso by taking the first ever pole position around Austin’s Circuit of the Americas.

Lewis Hamilton put his McLaren alongside Vettel on the front row, while Alonso could only manage P9, which will become P8 after Romain Grosjean’s grid penalty for a gearbox change is applied.


Track temperature had doubled to 31C compared to the final practice session at the start of Q1. Abu Dhabi winner Kimi Raikkonen was the first big name to set a time, posting a 1’41.058, which was soon easily eclipsed by his team mate Romain Grosjean, who lowered the benchmark to a 1’39.078.

With the new track surface evolving rapidly, most teams chose to stay out on long runs to take advantage of the changing grip levels. Maldonado had another oversteer moment through Turn 19 on his way to comfortably getting through into the second session.

The concerns over the pace of the two HRTs to qualify within the 107% time were not realised, but Narain Karthikeyan suffered an apparent problem and stopped out on track. As the session neared conclusion, both Rosberg and Ricciardo traded laptimes to try and secure the crucial P17 slot, with the Toro Rosso driver ultimately missing out.

In a big result for the Marussia team, both Charles Pic and Timo Glock out-qualified their Caterham counterparts. It was Daniel Ricciardo joining the usual suspects eliminated from the first session this weekend. At the front, Sebastian Vettel was quickest with a 1’36.588, with Lewis Hamilton half a second behind.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari1’39.114
19Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth1’40.056
20Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth1’40.664
21Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault1’40.809
22Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault1’41.166
23Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth1’42.011
24Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth1’42.740


The softer Medium compound was now a necessity for the remaining cars in the second session. Raikkonen again set the initial pace with a 1’37.457.

Fernando Alonso, already struggling for pace in comparison to the Red Bulls, appeared to be held up by the Mercedes of Michael Schumacher at apex of Turn 15 – gesiticulating to the German driver amidst the flash of the blue lights.

With just under five minutes to go, the McLaren of Jenson Button hit trouble. An apparent loss of power left Button coasting back to the pits and unable to improve his time, leaving him to tumble out of the top ten and, therefore, Q3.

Kimi Raikkonen just held off Bruno Senna to make it through in P10, while Paul di Resta will have been very disappointed with P13, with his team mate Nico Hulkenberg easily making it through into Q3. The Sauber team mates of Perez and Kobayashi and Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg will also be scratching their heads at their respective lack of pace, and will start from P15, P16, and P17 respectively.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault1’37.604
12Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’37.616
13Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’37.665
14Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari1’37.879
15Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’38.206
16Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’38.418
17Nico RosbergMercedes1’38.501


The shootout for the inaugural pole position around the new Circuit of the Americas looked set to be a forgone conclusion before it began.

Mark Webber was the first man into the 1’36s before Lewis Hamilton easily beat the Australian with a 1’36.209. World championship leader and fastest man all weekend, Sebastian Vettel, posted a 1’35.877 to comfortably take provisional pole, while title rival Fernando Alonso struggled to keep within a second of the German’s time.

Vettel’s ultimate pace, resulting in a 1’35.657 – the fastest lap all weekend – proved enough to secure his sixth pole position of the season, but Lewis Hamilton pushed the Red Bull driver hard, missing out on pipping the German to pole by just one tenth.

Mark Webber will provisionally start third behind his team mate, but is currently under investigation for apparently missing a weight check. Grosjean’s P4 will become P9 after his penalty, promoting, Raikkonen, Schumacher, Massa, Hulkenberg and title contender Alonso. The extra grid slot could prove to be more of a curse than a blessing for the Ferrari, as it means the double world champion will begin the race on the dirty side of the grid.

Top ten in Q3

1Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’35.657
2Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’35.766
3Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’36.174
4Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’36.587
5Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault1’36.708
6Michael SchumacherMercedes1’36.794
7Felipe MassaFerrari1’36.937
8Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’37.141
9Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’37.300
10Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1’37.842

2012 United States Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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113 comments on “Vettel takes pole as Alonso struggles to fourth row”

  1. Lewis produced an absolute stonker of a lap. McLaren will sorely miss him next season, you can bet on that!
    Still seems to me that only Fernando and Lewis can really out-perform their car.
    Let’s hope the championship lives onto Brazil, and McLaren don’t show up with even more car failures.

    1. Let’s hope the championship lives onto Brazil

      If it does, there probably won’t be much of a fight. Alonso will probably need to win to be champion, while Vettel will probably just need to score points regardless of where Alonso finishes.

      1. Well, the reverse didn’t work out too well for Alonso a couple years back…

    2. Its Buttons turn to DNF this race. Then they can both finish in Brazil.

    3. Actually I disagree with that. If you compare the two laps Lewis are making some crucial mistakes while Vettel is absolutely flowing with perfect Apexes. If anything, it looks like the McLaren is faster than the Red Bull but Vettel makes up for it. Lewis’s lap looks much more desperate and though it is fascinating to watch it is rarely the fastest way to drive.

      1. @poul, I come to the exact opposite conclusion from your observations.

      2. yeah, Hamilton messed up turn 11 (hairpin), locked up in turn 15 and was a bit greedy in the final turn 20. Vettel on the other hand looked very smooth all the way through his lap.

        1. That’s because he was trying to squeeze every last ounce of performance from his car.
          Look at the way Nando qualifies.

    4. Or maybe the Mclaren is just as fast as the Red Bull and hence Lewis is able to match Sebastian.

      1. From the world feed, as the drivers were weighing themselves and toweling down, Hamilton said to Mark “you guys are so quick” and Mark gestured towards Vettel, said “He’s…” and then just shook his head.

        I think Webber is having a pretty good year and probably is an accurate measure of how fast the Redbull is. I think the McLaren is probably as fast as or faster than the Redbull and both Hamilton and Vettel are maximizing the car. Davidson on Sky showed the mistakes both made on their final laps and said Hamilton’s were a bit more costly of the two, which means with perfect laps by both drives the McLaren is probably a shade faster.

        Rather than always down playing Vettel or Hamilton, we should really be enjoying two of the best qualifiers in recent F1 history at the top of their game and with cars that are fundamentally even (with different strengths and weaknesses). But Vettel’s been on it this entire weekend.

  2. What a shame for Alonso. Vettel walking to another championship and he can’t do anything about it :(

    1. He could’ve qualified better…

      1. After all, Felipe “should be sacked” Massa is .350 seconds up the road. Fernando “i did maximum” Alonso can’t take the pressure, maybe? ;)

        1. Never mind qualifying, Fernando is going to push “120 percent on every lap” ;)

          1. Something Massa cant do.

      2. Take your sibling rivalry somewhere else :P

    2. Sviatoslav Andrushko (@)
      17th November 2012, 20:10

      The main problem is that there are two so-called pilots right behind him (Pastor & Grosjean). I believe the best result Ferrari will produce only if they choose absolutely different strategy: start from pit, change everything they can change in the car, improve settings, etc. I believe there will be accidents on the start so Alonso could avoid them and overtake several racers without fight. And than – who knows…

      1. Starting from the pit isn’t a magic pill that will always lead to a good result. It worked for Vettel in Abu Dhabi because his initial set-up was assuming that he would be at the front from the start. Ferrari will almost certainly have expected Alonso to be starting on the third or fourth row, so they will have set him up accordingly. Have you not been watching as Alonso has claimed three consecutive podiums without starting in the top three – or from the back, for that matter? Lousy qualifying performance from him today though.

    3. Agreed.

      As an Alonso fan, watching him struggle doing those laps was really frustrating. I’m my opinion only 2 world championships doesn’t seem to do him justice. Ok he’s a controversial driver but watching him do his thing behind the wheel is just magic.

      However that being said Vettel and Red Bull deserve a lot more credit than they are been given if the do take both championships. They’ve entered a sport that was seemingly only owned by 2 teams and along with the correct knowledge, drivers and equipment have managed to force they’re way into the very top of the pinnacle of motorsport.

      1. Exactly. People try to make it out like that RB just popped out of Newey’s head fully operational and no one else ate Red Bull is needed to make the team as good as they are. Completely false otherwise Raikkonen would be walking around with a few more titles today. Vettel is an exceptional driver combined with a car capable of wining a championship makes the duo very formidable. Red Bull deserves more credit than they get.

        1. Very well said.

      2. So many world championships would do him justice? 8? I would like to know, Alonso fan.

        1. Any particular reason why my response was deleted…

      3. However that being said Vettel and Red Bull deserve a lot more credit than they are been given if the do take both championships. They’ve entered a sport that was seemingly only owned by 2 teams and along with the correct knowledge, drivers and equipment have managed to force they’re way into the very top of the pinnacle of motorsport.

        They do deserve a lot of credit. I think that most people who complain about the dominance of red bull deep down resent the fact that although we have had some really close championship battles over the last few years, if red bull were just a little slower, we may get close fights for the championship on track as well as on the points leader board. I think that’s the key we would like to be able to see them in close combat, and we’re so close but the red bulls are just that little to fast, well done to them

      4. Two are just enough, his performance in Ferrari justifies his two Championships he got. Good job Mr. Alonso!

    4. @095cal Walking to another championship? Have you only watched the last third of this season?

  3. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
    17th November 2012, 20:04

    For the love of Jaffa Cakes! Can someone please tell Vettel to stop changing his helmet design…Its driving me crazy! Just pick one design and stick to it!
    Surely Vettel realises that a race drivers crash helmet is like a wife. You pick one and for better or worse you stick with it. Even if you find its looks boring after a while…the crash helmet that is…

    1. I’m with you guy.

    2. I don’t get this, why would it bother anyone? :o

    3. Explains why Vettel keeps changing helmets, he is unmarried

    4. If he wins a race, he gifts the helmet to someone. If he doesn’t win the race, the helmet will make another appearance somewhere along the road.

    5. He’s young. I’m not surprised he doesn’t want to get married yet ;)

      But seriously, I don’t know why people get annoyed with Vettel’s helmets. It isn’t hard to tell Red Bull drivers apart because Webber always uses the same design.

    6. Nah it’s only a bit of fun, and I like seeing the designs they come up with.

      Plus not many drivers helmets stay the same throughout their whole career as you suggest. Schumacher, Massa, Raikkonen, Alonso to name but a few…they’ve all greatly modified their helmets throughout their careers.

    7. If Helmets are like wives, then Sebastian Vettel is the Mormon polygamist of F1 drivers…

    8. He has a deal with Arai, and every time he wins, he retires that helmet, and he might as well come up with new designs; it’s very interesting to see what new designs and what new effects JMD can achieve.
      It also proves he has some imagination as well.

      1. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
        17th November 2012, 21:12

        He has a deal with Arai, and every time he wins, he retires that helmet

        Let’s hope that he keeps the same helmet design for the next five years then! :-)

        1. And with this comment you have lost any and all credibility.

    9. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
      17th November 2012, 21:09

      A race drivers crash helmet is a reflection of both his personality and an indicator as to how he perceives himself. For instance, Hamilton expresses his admiration for Senna via his helmet design, while some drivers will put the names of charities that are dear to their hearts on their helmet from time to time. Vettel’s helmet designs on the other hand are (correct me if I’m wrong) completely and utterly pointless and gives the impression (at least to me) that he’s a superficial person who only cares about records and numbers (my guess is he’s going for some kind of record for the most helmet designs), it takes something away from the sanctity of the sacred essential apparel that is the crash helmet.

      Also, it’s a wasted opportunity to build an image that people will remember. When I think of Senna, I picture his yellow crash helmet, when I think of David Beckham I picture Adidas Predators and when I thing of Michael Johnson I am reminded of his gold running shoes.

      Think about it, if you wanted to purchase a replica of your favourite drivers crash helmet, and your fav driver happened to be Vettel, which design would you buy? He doesn’t seem to care about the designs so why would any of his fans. I know that Ham’s crash helmet means something to him, therefore (as a fan of his) it adds extra (sentimental) value to it.

      1. Or rather than this big sour rant, you can just buy your own driver’s favorite helmet and accept that Vettel likes to be a little more creative than other drivers ;-)

        1. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
          17th November 2012, 21:37

          You say creative, I say shallow ;-)

      2. A race drivers crash helmet is a reflection of both his personality and an indicator as to how he perceives himself.

        Bull. A helmet only protects your head. Why exactly should he care what the so-called ‘fans’ think about his constant helmet changing? They’re his helmets, noone else’s.

        …it takes something away from the sanctity of the sacred essential apparel that is the crash helmet.


        You are really taking this whole ‘appearance of the helmet’ nonsense far too seriously.

        Also, it’s a wasted opportunity to build an image that people will remember. When I think of Senna, I picture his yellow crash helmet, when I think of David Beckham I picture Adidas Predators and when I thing of Michael Johnson I am reminded of his gold running shoes.

        One would much rather be remembered for his accomplishments than for something as insignificant as those things.

        I know that Ham’s crash helmet means something to him, therefore (as a fan of his) it adds extra (sentimental) value to it.

        Sentimentalism doesn’t belong in F1. If it did, noone would be whining about Vettel/Alonso/anyone else’s constant radio messages.

        1. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
          17th November 2012, 22:17


          You are really taking this whole ‘appearance of the helmet’ nonsense far too seriously.

          The sacred essential apparel line was tongue-in-cheek. :P
          I see it as a familiarity issue. I’m sure that there are fans that find it difficult to relate to him and changing your helmet every second won’t help the situation.

          One would much rather be remembered for his accomplishments than for something as insignificant as those things.

          Of course, but that does mean that people won’t also remember you for appearance. Federer’s white suites at Wimbledon , Bjorn Borg’s headband, Edgar David’s shades or Dennis Taylor’s HUGE specs…

          Sentimentalism doesn’t belong in F1.

          I would say dedicating a corner on a race track to a driver (the Senna S) is pretty sentimental, wouldn’t you?

          1. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
            17th November 2012, 22:19

            *Federer’s white suits at Wimbledon

          2. @tmcs88 People will not relate to Vettel any easier if he decides tomorrow to stick to a design. How in the world would a helmet design make anyone more relatable? More recognisable/iconic? Yes, possibly.

            Also in several other comments you state that Vettel changing his helmet style is signs of a shallow person, yet your entire premise is based on a very shallow analysis of what makes a sports-person great, attributing so much weight to a helmet design as a mark of character.
            It’s so superficial and insignificant compared to their talent, drive, passion and a million other reasons to admire someone or think of them as a good driver, or a good sports-person.

            Your argument defeats itself.

      3. @tmcs88

        Even as a Vettel fan, I’m in 2 minds about it.

        On the one hand as you say, there is the familiarity- what you would get with Senna/ Hamilton’s yellow helmet, Schumacher’s helmet (blue and white from ’92-2000, all red from 2000-’12). You wouldn’t get that with Vettel changing helmet all the time, so I somewhat agree (except for him being superficial).

        But at the same time, he drives for Red Bull, and came from their young driver’s program. All of them have very similar helmets that incorporate the Red Bull logo. Look at Ricciardo and Vergne . Or even worse, Buemi and Alguersuari . Perhaps he breaks the “tradition” to stand out personality wise from RB’s other young drivers?

        1. davidnotcoulthard
          18th November 2012, 9:43

          @tmcs88 , @david-a
          Anyway Vettel did stick to a design in the past. If people are going to remember him for a design, it’s probably the one that he wore until 2010, the one with a Silver-Blue pattern that looks like a Red Bull can. Since there already is a design that people can relate to him if they want to, I don’t think your arguments are needed-at all. Not that my argument are needed at all, anyway.

      4. Hamilton’s helmet is yellow so that his dad could pick him out in kart races, it had nothing to do with Senna. It’s more of a homage to his dad than anything else, and it was a shame to see it turn Silver at Singapore to be honest.

        Vettel changes his helmet to me represents the short term culture we live in today, perhaps that’s what gets people going? Personally, I’m not really bothered about it.

        1. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
          17th November 2012, 23:16

          Vettel changes his helmet to me represents the short term culture we live in today, perhaps that’s what gets people going

          I couldn’t agree more, this is why I labeled described him as shallow.

          It’s more of a homage to his dad

          Whether it’s a tribute to his dad or Senna, at least it’s a tribute to someone rather than a soulless advertising gimmick for Arai…very shallow and typical of today’s modern throwaway culture.

          1. Well one could argue that it is just as shallow to judge a person by what they do to their helmet design from one race to the other.

          2. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
            18th November 2012, 2:19

            I beg to differ. Imbuing a deeper meaning onto something that other people deem superficial (such as crash helmet) is the opposite of shallowness. If someone can look at a supposedly non-item like a crash helmet and see a greater, philosophical transience to it. That person is anything but shallow or superficial.

            Like Isaac Newton and the infamous Apple.

          3. @tmcs88 Your avatar is of Lewis Hamilton apparently break dancing. What wonders of your soul can I lay bare from analysing that?

            If someone can look at a supposedly non-item like a crash helmet and see a greater, philosophical transience to it. That person is anything but shallow or superficial.

            Either that or really, really pretentious.

          4. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
            18th November 2012, 2:33

            That’s a good one Snake! ;-)

          5. How is it an advert for Arai?
            Alain Prost I think used to change gloves, suit and boots when he didn’t win, but that cant be classed as an advert for OMP!!

    10. I’m with @xjrjaaag15 ; it shows that he has an imagination and is a rare opportunity for him to show his personality in this time of corporate sponsorship dictating what the drivers can say. He speaks through him helmet designs!

    11. Surely Vettel realises that a race drivers crash helmet is like a wife.

      Bull. As Kimi said, it only protects your head. His opinion of his own helmet(s) is the only one that matters.

      1. If no one was bothered about it, we wouldn’t be talking about it. So it does matter to others.

        1. Like it or not, a helmet design is a driver’s signature. Senna’s yellow, Schumacher’s red, Button’s JB, Alonso’s Asturias Blue are all memorable, and part of the driver’s personality. Their design evolves, but never changes. Even Raikkonen keeps it consistent despite what he says.
          Sebastian has brought out some pretty bland designs in the past, and it’s worse that he keeps changing. They’re generally black, white or silver, with the RB logo near the temples and altering the top and sides with a boring looking render or a country’s flag. He’s also completely scrapped the rule where he only ‘retires’ a helmet after he wins a race.
          His Texas design is probably the worst of the bunch! Such an ugly piece of head protection equipment!

          1. While I agree that Schumacher’s red is a bit of a signature these days, he’s not the example to bring up for helmet design consistency!

          2. The Texas one is brilliant!!!!
            It’s amazing that Jens Munser has managed to make carbon fiber look like wood.

    12. The silly nonsense over Vettel’s helmet designs only serves to prove that some people will leap at the slightest pretext to hate the guy and have a go at him. Those trying to conjure up a justifiable reason for criticising him over something which matters so little are merely trying to add a spurious air of legitimacy to their whingeing.

      1. Is it really any surprise, though? People will use anything to say Alonso is a whimp and needs his teammates to move over for him, they go as far as criticizing him for his Twitter account. People like to get all worked up over Hamilton’s little mistakes, while you’d think his comments about the stewards and tweeting telemetry would be things you’d remember. People like go have a go at Button for his radio feedback and will go to lengths to explain you why his title in 2009 was ‘luck’. People still give Schumacher a hard time, not only over Adelaide 94, Jerez 97 or Monaco 06, but for developing a team around himself at Ferrari and allegations of stepping on kittens.

        I’m no Vettel fan and personally, but a lot of people view fandom of one as disdain for the other. I’ve done this before and people tend to do this in competitions, ‘I hope guy x wins, but I hope guy y crashes’. This talk about helmets, twitter or radios is no different and is not going to go away, sadly.

      2. Chris (@tophercheese21)
        18th November 2012, 11:58

        +1 Keith!

        I could care less about how many times Vettel’s helmets change. They’re helmets for gods sake! In fact, i think his helmets are quite cool actually, i like that he changes them each time he wins with one. He’s adding something creative to the sport, why hate on him for that?

        And in reply to the OP about all this non sense:
        If it makes you feel any better, all of Vettel’s helmets have the exact same underlying design to them. He just changes the bits around them.

        Australia –

        Germany –

        Austin –

      3. I find it really interesting to see what is possible with paint; Jens Munser is a genius

  4. i guess because of grosjean penalty alonso moved a grid position but now have to start from the dirty side of the track, if vettel get a good start and passed the first corner without incident then championship may well be over in austin

  5. Hamilton was pushing that McLaren incredibly hard and has been rewarded with a front-row start. I’m surprised that Webber is so far behind Vettel, especially since there is a fast sector which should have suited him. Vettel though has looked pretty much untouchable over one lap all weekend, so that makes Hamilton’s lap all the more impressive.

    1. I wouldn’t be surprised if Webber took it a bit easy to start on the clean side of the track in P3, afterall RB said they think people on the dirty side might loose as much as 2 rows worth of positions by turn one and Webbo ain’t exactly the master of race starts.

      1. I thought the clean side of the track is the even numbered side, because button said starting on p2 would be better than pole…

        1. It might be under normal circumstances because it’s shorter to the apex of T1, but if you have no grip from the dirty side it really doesn’t matter. I think Button may have been putting a happy face on the fact that he fancied P2 as a possibility for himself (but not Pole :)

        2. @melkurion – he said that because P1 is on an incline, so that may comprimise the start. The even-numbered grid-slots are supposedly lacking so much in grip that those drivers are expected to perhaps lose 2 places – precisely why it is thought Alonso may actually have been disadvantaged by Grosjean’s penalty.

          1. Aahhh, hence my confusion, thnx

          2. In that case, it’s a good thing Vettel has Webber directly behind him, as Webber is unlikely to capitalise on a potentially sub-standard start by Vettel.

  6. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    17th November 2012, 20:06

    The move can be on this way: Massa starts and sweeps Hulkenberg’s line, trying to block him and making room for Alonso to accelerate. If he manages to get past both of them and enter on the clean side, he can try another move to be fifth if he passes Schum. Or to be waiting patiently until (hopefully for Alonso) the Mercedes loses performance.

    Of course, any of these things would give hime more points than Vettel. And he has to watch his back from Grosjean and Maldonado, 2 proffesional nutcases.

    1. @omarr-pepper don’t forget that he’s starting on the dirty side. A lot of drivers have commented that practice starts from the dirty side at Austin so far have been like “starting in the wet”

  7. It seems only unreliability and crash can stop Vettel.

    1. Also I just hope Pirelli would learn from the tyre choice in the later part of this season and make no silly move nexy year.

      1. the water leak problem in vettel car give some hope to there rival..if hamilton gets ahead after the start then its really interesting other wise its another pole to finish procession from vettel

      2. I think the lack of grip actually has made it quite interesting! There appears to have been very little degradation but most of the cars have been sliding around a lot which should make for an interesting race, if not from a strategic point of view!

    2. @eggry – I’m not sure that Vettel is as dominant as you suggest. I think that either unreliability or a crash could be enough to stop him.

      1. But how can you be sure they would be enough?

  8. turn one is going to be very interesting… really hope Mark gets one of his trademark starts so Lewis can attack vettel before he pulls away

    1. Even if Webber fail to start(or penalty if it comes out), still Hamilton should have better start than Vettel, which looks quite unlikely since the track is very slippery.

    2. @baldgye don’t forget that he’s starting on the dirty side. A lot of drivers have commented that practice starts from the dirty side at Austin so far have been like “starting in the wet”

      1. I know, which is why I was talking about mark getting one of his ‘trade mark starts’ …as he is known to be pretty bad at them LOL if mark gets a good start Lewis is going to have a hard time into turn one and it will allow Vettel to get away and possibly drive off into the sun-set…

        but if mark gets a bad start Lewis is mighty through sector 1 and should be able to make the bk straight interesting with vettel…

        1. @baldgye I think Lewis will have to DEFEND for P3 – let alone keeping P2.

          At the start it won’t matter about who’s mighty through Sector 1 – because whoever isn’t in the lead will automatically be afflicted by dirty air, making them a lot slower through the fast sweepers.

  9. I think it was good to see a new type of qualifying. We often see drivers do only one fast lap, while today we saw all the drivers on track always improving.

    As for the championship, I think it’s not so obvious that Seb will win it tomorrow. I mean, let’s look at the grid: Alonso has Schumacher, Massa and Hulkenberg who probably won’t keep up with his race pace. So, P5 is absolutely possible. The top 4 is going to be very hard to beat, but if someone has a problem Alonso will take full advantage of it, no doubt about it.

    I still think that it will be decided in Brazil.

    1. @yobo01 P5 for Alonso with Vettel P1 would STILL decide the title though.

      1. Exactly, P5 would mean Alonso would be 25 points behind Alonso, so Vettel wins on count back. He needs 4th if Vettel takes the chequered flag, so it’s entirely possible Vettel could win the championship.

        1. Alonso is soo good he can be 25 points ahead of himself at any given moment in the WDC standings! o.O

      2. @raymondu999 Yeah, absolutely. I was trying to say that P5 for Alonso tomorrow should be quite easy, so I guess he could end up in the top 4 somehow.

  10. Lewis went H.A.M! Great lap, i hope he maintains P2 tomorrow at the start and finally gets to chase Vettel, although Mclaren’s race pace in the first stint isn’t usually great.

  11. The first lap is going to be very interesting on cold tires and full fuel loads. I will be surprised if there isnt an accident through turn one, or someone making a mistake in the esses. The way they slow up after turn 4, there is a very good possibility of a pileup if someone comes in too hot and has to back off.

  12. Great lap from Hamilton! Unfortunately I doubt that he will able to win the race as the Red Bulls are clearly superior machines.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      18th November 2012, 0:24


  13. I wonder how that altenator is hanging in there on the Red Bulls (and Renaults in general)…

    This year, Ferrari have had far better race pace than qualifying, however, on this track, they lack both. Annoyingly, this race is Vettel’s to lose, as is the championship.

    But all the same, as a SkyF1 watcher and fan, I’m laughing at the BBC with their shortsitedness and how they’ve really stuffed their fans. The climax of the championship could be reached tomorrow. I hope it isnt, but it’s a massive middle finger to the BBC all the same.

    1. That’s dead on about the BBC – not just because the title could be decided tomorrow, but it’s one of the most eagerly-awaited races of the year, and they’re crazy to throw away live shows in the evening. They always used to get way better ratings for prime-time races in Canada and Brazil.

      BBC made a really good qualifying show though, a couple of hours well spent editing it and adding some nice interviews with the drivers.

      1. But the fact is the race programme ends at 00:25.
        Most people in Britain won’t be able to watch it due to having either work or school to go to.
        It was silly really; they should have had highlights of the early morning ones, like japan, and Korea, and malaysia, which can be shown at lunchtime, maybe the odd European race as highlights to show at about 4pm ish, and Brazil, America and canada as live shows.

  14. Despite conservatative tyre choise and not many places to overtake, this could again turn out to be an amazing race. Let’s hope for a good battle between Vettel and Hamilton. Vettel probably will have an advantage in the early stage’s as his tyres seem to reach acceptable temperature earlier than Hamiltons. But from there on, Hamilton might beat him on raw pace, since the long-runs on friday suggest the Mclaren could actually be the fastest car in racing conditions. Also there are some quick cars out of possition; Button, Alonso, Grosjean and even Rosberg who showed good pace in free practice.

  15. Missing a weigh bridge, that sounds like the kind of technical infringement that would get you disqualified from qualifying. Would be good news for Alonso, starting one place higher up and on the clean side of the grid.

    Interesting that it’s often been said that the Red Bull is mighty in the first sector, when it was Hamilton that purpled that sector on his final flying lap. A shame (for Hamilton fans anyway) that he didn’t manage a better final sector of the lap, although I feel that Vettel could have improved more also, in the hypothetical case that both could give it another couple of goes.

    The start will be interesting tomorrow. It’s not the first time that we hear drivers voice concern over the dirty side of the grid, though usually there does not seem to be a great deal of difference. Are there any support races tomorrow?

    1. that sounds like the kind of technical infringement that would get you disqualified from qualifying

      Apparently not, just a reprimand

  16. Since this year’s championship is over, should we start doing the predictions championship for next year?

    My prediction is Vettel and red bull win again, unless Helmut Marko is given the sort of power the lunatic Montezemalo has at Ferrari.

    Yes, Luca. Sacking Schumi & Todt, losing Brawn and Byrne was a great move for your team. Thankfully, Marko isn’t so deluded that he’d get rid of the real talent in order to try and grab more glory for himself. Err …

  17. I don’t like to say it but unless Alonso produces a momentous drive tomorrow (which is entirely within the realms of possibility), as in gets on to the podium, I’m afraid the championship is over. I also envisage heads rolling at Ferrari over the break. I can’t imagine Mr. Montezemelo being happy at the large lead being shattered so easily. But I also question weather or not he is the right man for the job….

  18. @keithcollantine, according to Vettel got a new front wing last night for p3 and Q. Any news if Webber also has the new wing?

  19. vettel starting from pole and alonso from 8th: what a mouth watering prospect for a spectacular finish to the championship! sadly i live in the southern hemisphere and have seen Vettel win a race before so ill be happy to wake up in the morning to read of Vettels victory/championship conquests xD

  20. It is irrational to be pushing the “sad if the title fight is over tomorrow” argument again and again. Its just a try to argue logically for an irritation to see Vettel win a third well-deserved title – if he wins it. We have seen a great season up until now, with fantastic battles, an unprecedented streak of races with a new winner every time and an intense battle for the lead up until this race, where Vettel seems to be untouchable. However even if he wins from pole tomorrow a majority of You will still not vote him as DOTW, because of annoyance over his “finger” or his helmet designs or the fact that he has the best racecar, or because he isn’t able to out-race the cars ability, like Hamilton and Alonso can, the list is endless. My advice to those of You who are clearly annoyed over Vettel: Get over it! He will be at the front of this sport a least a few seasons more, and if You loosened up a bit, he is actually a stunning race driver – otherwise he wouldn’t be there with 2 titles and leading the battle to a third. And for next season I’m afraid Hamilton needs a miracle to push to the podium regularly. McLaren’s driver line up for 2013 doesn’t seem to match RBR and Ferrari, but maybe Lotus can show up with a competitive car for Kimi? Its going to be exciting, even if we maybe get a finale for 2012 tomorrow.

  21. Regardless what happens at the front of the grid, Marussia vs Caterham battle is quite interesting to me comes sunday.

    1. @silencer Yep, Caterham will be hoping for a race of attrition!

  22. I don’t regard Senna as a great driver; jim Clark for me

  23. Overall I wished it would be a bit closer in the championship and still a 3 way race. There is nothing better than seeing wheel on wheel fights for the championship. This year Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso drive in their own league and it would have been nice to see it in the championship too.
    Vettel very headstrong showing rarely nerves and demonstrating his skills (Spa, Abu Dhabi).
    Alonso almost achieving a perfect season by scoring each race where he survived turn 1 – with an underperforming car.
    Hamilton – Mr. raw speed – and whenever his McLaren and the tires are up to the task he’s there to score big time.

  24. Why is everyone acting like the championship ‘being over’ a bad thing? It’s the penultimate race of the season for goodness sake!

    Decent qualifying session , seems Vettel’s confidence in the car got him through as pretty much everyone else was having the odd moment here or there. I can see Button potentially being a headache for Alonso as McLaren will be keen to run him on fresher tyres for as long as possible.

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